Koite Urmele, a 25 years old mother of three children, depended on a water from the river. The walk to the river was quite a long distance.
“It took me a round trip of 2 hours each time. Then I would have 25 litres on my back and 5 or 10 litres in each hand. I would do this 2 or 3 times each day, sometimes four times. And sometimes I would use the donkey, but not often. We are farmers, and the donkey was needed elsewhere.
“We would go in pairs and help each other. It’s always women who collect water, unless a woman has given birth of course… and it can be dangerous to go alone”, recalls Koite.
When a water well was built right across her home, which was only less than 5 minutes’ walk away, Koite says she could not be any more relieved. “I couldn’t believe it. To be so close to our home. This was a dream come true, to be spared the time and the heavy work.
The best thing is that I now have time to do other things; I can go to the field and help my husband tend the crops, I can go to the mill and grind flour, I can go to church, or stay at home with my children.
But perhaps most importantly: When I spent all day collecting water, I had no time to prepare food in the evenings for the day ahead. So we did our work with no food to eat, only with a bottle of the local beer to sustain us. We would drink this to not feel hungry, even the children.
But now, I have time. So I can join my husband in the field, and then come home and prepare fresh food in the evening so we always have fresh food to eat during the day. And then, if the food runs out during the day, I can even prepare more. I also have time to wash clothes.
Now, I cook so much my neighbors are wondering what is going on. They are worried I will use up all the local charcoal!”
Koite and her family does not only have clean water to drink but also an education on how to keep the water clean from when they get it from the pump, to the time when they use it.
“After the pump was installed, they gave us training in how to safely handle water in different situations. The training was over 3 days, and it was useful. Some of the things I learned there, I brought home and am using in daily life”, she says.
Koite also says she has seen an improvement in her family health-wise since the pump was installed and they started to access clean water. “We keep it in clean containers. The food we eat is prepared fresh, and stored in clean containers. Even the bottles we use to prepare local beer, are cleaner than they were before. And we wash our hands with soap after using the latrine. Before the well was drilled we had stomach aches, typhoid was common. This has already been reduced. In five months we have seen a change!
Water is life, that’s for sure. But clean water is health”, says Koite.
Between 2011-2015, Norwegian Church Aid, served 501,014 people with clean drinking water in SNNPR, Oromia, Tigray and Amhara regions through the construction of a total of 777 water wells.